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Ernst Kantorowicz lectures


  • Creation: approximately 1940-1949


Conditions Governing Use

In his will, Kantorowicz allowed that his students could use the lectures as they wished, but none of them were ever allowed to be published. That stipulation must be honored now that the materials are part of an archival deposit. Felicitious phrases may be quoted and the ideas in general paraphrased, but long quotations must not be made.

Biographical / Historical

Ernst Hartwig Kantorowicz was born on May 3, 1895, to a Jewish family in what is now Poznan, Poland. He served in the German Army during World War I, then studied philosophy at the University of Berlin. He moved to the University of Heidelberg to study history with Karl Hampe and Friedrich Baethgen, two noted medievalists. While in Heidelberg, Kantorowicz became involved with the so-called Georgekreis, a group of artists and intellectuals devoted to the German poet and aesthete Stefan George and who shared an interest in art, literature and Romantic mysticism.

He published a controversial biography of Frederick II.

He served on the faculty of the University of Frankfurt until 1933, when he was forced to resign by the Nazi regime. He taught briefly at Oxford University, then joined the faculty of the University of California at Berkeley. He remained at Berkeley until 1939, when he left after a controversy in which he refused to sign a loyalty oath. He was asked to join the faculty of the Institute for Advanced Study.

Kantorowicz died on September 9, 1963.


3.0 linear feet

Language of Materials



Each lecture has been provided with a covering letter with the following information: 1) an explanatory paragraph or two regarding its origin and relationship to other courses; 2) when it was offered; and 3) "Textual Peculiarities" -- missing pages, pages borrowed from other lectures, and the like.

Kantorowiz typed out his lectures, but he also edited them all by hand. Annotations are naturally heaviest on courses he gave more than once, but they are also found on courses he taught just once. This suggests that he typed up the lectures some days (or weeks, or months) beforehand, and edited them on the eve (or morning) of the day they were to be delivered.

He also imposed a single pagination on each set of lectures. Pages taken from one course for use in another were given new page numbers by hand. The old typed-in page numbers being still visible, it was relatively easy to discover where they had been taken from and to put them back there in photocopied form. As much as possible, therefore, the narrative continuity of every set of lectures has been reconstituted.

Finally, regarding odd course materials found loosely inserted into the binders holding the lectures: in the photocopies, Syllabi and Reading Lists have been put at the beginning, examination questions and the like at the end.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

When Kantorowicz died in September 1963, he bequeathed some twenty binders' worth of University of California lectures (plus a couple at Princeton University) to two of his former students, Michael Cherniavsky (who died in 1975) and Ralph E. Giesey. The latter has now made a final disposition of this collection of lectures.

Existence and Location of Originals

The originals and a set of photocopies of them have been deposited at the Leo Baeck Institute in New York City (where the main archive of Kantorowicz materials is to be found).

Processing Information

Explanatory text written by Ralph E. Giesey in April 1993. Photocopying completed by the Institute for Advanced Study in 1993.

Guide to the Ernst Kantorowicz lectures
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • 2022-08-12: Caitlin Rizzo revised this finding aid to comply with DACS standards and revised the series titles.